An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department who died during training after suffering deadly neck injuries had been beaten by fellow officers during an exercise intended to “simulate a mob,” according to a wrongful-death claim filed by the officer’s mother against the city.
Officer Houston Tipping, 32, suffered a spinal cord injury on 26 May at the police academy in Elysian Park in central LA. He died three days later. His funeral took place on Wednesday and was attended by LAPD Chief Michel Moore and Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Mother Shirley Huffman was also present but didn’t speak. She filed the notice of claim on Friday, which included allegations of wrongful death, assault, and battery, and other civil rights offences. Notices of claim are often the step taken before a lawsuit is filed.
Ms Huffman claims that her son was “repeatedly struck in the head severely enough that he bled” and that Mr Tipping required stitches.
The claim also said that his neck was broken several times, leading to his death. Ms Huffman also alleged that the exercise “had already been questioned” because other officers had also been injured.
LAPD spokesman Captain Kelly Muniz said on Friday that the department was unable to comment on the claim or the exercise, according to theLos Angeles Times. She added that an investigation has been launched, partly to understand if “there are any changes that need to be made”.
“It is tragic and we’re all saddened by his loss,” Captain Muniz said. Mr Tipping had served on the force for five years.
The LAPD has said that the officer was injured while he was “grappling” with a fellow officer.
The claim from the mother is asking for unspecified financial compensation and damages from the city. It’s also calling on the city to preserve all evidence in the case, such as “videos of the entire training exercise and actions taken against Officer Tipping”.
According to the LA Times, Huffman lawyer Bradley Gage said the mother doesn’t want to comment apart from what’s in the claim. He added that the allegations are based on interviews he’s done with witnesses and others with knowledge of what occurred.
Mr Gage said Mr Tipping suffered two head injuries and four vertebrae injuries.
The officer had worked as a patrolman in the Devonshire division, covering Northridge, Reseda, Chatsworth, and other parts of the northern San Fernando Valley.
Chief Moore knelt down before Mr Tipping’s parents at the funeral and gave them a folded US flag.
Some of his comments at the funeral were included in the claim.
“Chief Moore stated that Officer Tipping impressed his peers with a ‘willingness to go the extra mile to make the world a better place,’” the claim said. “Yet, that wasn’t enough to avoid other officers paralyzing him and eventually killing him in violation of law, and his civil rights.”